Duterte appoints back to Customs port collector sacked over shabu mess

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 25) — A Manila port official is back at the Bureau of Customs more than six months since he was relieved from the post amid investigations into the multibillion-peso shabu shipment that entered the country under his watch.

President Rodrigo Duterte has given a higher post to Vener Baquiran, former district collector of the Manila International Container Port, when two massive drug shipments concealed in magnetic lifters – one believed to be worth ₱11 billion and the other, ₱2.4 billion – were smuggled in June 2018. He is now Customs deputy commissioner, based on the appointment paper signed by the President on March 6 and released by Malacañang Saturday.

Baquiran was sacked in August 2018 after authorities discovered the shipments. In January, the National Bureau of Investigation charged him for failing to prevent the smuggling, resulting in a probe by the Justice Department.

Aside from Baquiran, two retired generals were appointed Customs deputy commissioners: retired BGen. Raniel Ramiro and retired Lt. Gen. Donato San Juan.

Duterte has said he wants military men to take over the beleaguered bureau, but Customs Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero, a former Armed Forces chief, said there will be no military takeover.